Sunday, 29 June 2014

A Honeysuckle Foundling

It's been almost two years since we've moved here. This is, however, the first time I've noticed a honeysuckle by the shed. It's the first time I've had a honeysuckle, and for now I have to do with other people's experience from the world wide web.

I don't know if that's a universal thing or just my thing, but every time I move to another place, I want to make it my own by destroying what's already there. I destroyed a huge bed of irises in our previous garden and wanted to do the same here once we bought this house. Irises are kind of boring. It's awfully hard to weed them, they bloom for a couple of days and then leave an unsightly old stem till next year.
But I decided against digging them out - at least for now. They fill the flowerbed nicely, and the leaves look rather brave and heroic - much like gladiolus leaves.

This garden is teaching me to save and savour rather than to destroy and decimate.

The first autumn was bleak, dreary, very cold and rainy from the day we moved in. There were practically no apples in any of the eight apple-trees, apart from one crab-apple tree with dreadfully sour and astringent fruit. I suggested cutting down all of them - I hated the overshadowed, dark, wet, boring garden. It's not, however, that easy - cutting down eight apple trees. So we took down the crab-apple tree and left the rest. Last year they all gave such incredible apples we were ashamed of ever considering cutting them down.

And the hazels - I hated them, too. They blocked the view completely, adding to the doom and gloom of the shadows. They're so full of nuts now that I can hardly wait till harvest time. Our own nuts!

There are things I will never learn to love and am absolutely set on cutting them down. I've had too many broken toys, footballs, bike tires and cuts and tears from the huge, overwhelming hawthorns that seem to be the most readily available hedge material, growing quickly and hiding the owners from sight - until they realize that hedges need to be trimmed at the very least once a year, and the trimmings need to be gathered and taken away, cutting hands, and arms, and legs, and faces, and making the children wary of running around barefoot. No, I will never want a hawthorn hedge as long as I live. That one (we have three, so all of them!) will have to go in winter when thick clothes might save us from some nasty wounds.

The same goes for a huge plum-tree that is just casting a shadow over the far end of the garden and producing inedible, horribly sour little plums, all stone and no pulp. "Cut it down!" I insisted last year, but it was the first one to bloom this spring, and those two weeks when it was in bloom made up for all the gloom and shadow of the rest of the year.

We're saving money now, or rather, we're out of money, so we must do with what we have at home - in the pantry, in the freezer, in the cellar, and in the garden. It's easy throwing things away in times of plenty, but it's so nice to have things around when money is an issue. So I'm on a mission to save, to grow, to propagate.

So now I've found a honeysuckle creeping along the ground behind a huge stone by the corner of our shed. I have no idea what variety it is, or if it is of the poisonous or edible sort. I don't know how to grow it, but as it's doing quite fine on its own, I suppose I can do no wrong. Arthur made a trellis yesterday, Ralph was very eager to stain it with a pleasing green stain, and all that was left for me today was to tie the honeysuckle to it. Various sources suggested using women's tights cut into strips, but I decided against it. I might have to get the stems down for the winter, if it gets very cold, and the plant might not even like my tying, so for now I've just used some green woolen yarn. One vine has tiny beginnings of a flower, so I'm hoping to see how it turns out.

But right now I'm proud. Proud of my garden that has secrets and surprises of its own, proud of my husband for knowing what a trellis looks like, and proud of my son for doing a good job painting it.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

How to Keep Cats Away From Plants (and to Indulge Your Inner Five-Year-Old)

A couple of weeks ago in the Botanical Garden fair I bought two actinidia kolomikta plants - a dioecious plant that requires both male and female plants to be planted quite close together (0.5-2 metres apart). Everyone I talked to, including the seller, a very kind and pleasant old man, warned me that I had to protect the young plants from cats since they supposedly find it more irresistible than catnip or valerian.
Keksis, our three-legged predator, didn't pay any attention to the plants, but the dog was very interested in digging under them, because I took away old boards and bricks from the side of our shed, and he was absolutely certain that rats must be living there, right under the new plants. I scolded him and began researching the subject of protection.
We've spent all money on plastering the house, so I didn't have any for the garden. I looked for "little fences" on Pinterest and found some that looked really sweet. This morning I went to a nearby wood, taking the dog and the hubby with me, and cut me some osier twigs - as many as I could reach without getting my feet wet in the quagmire. It turned out - too little, but I didn't want to go back for more, so I just did with what I had.

I made two little signs from old scraps of wood and children's set of acrylic paint - just to let the dog and the cat know they are not to touch the plants (or to dig under them)! I'm not stupid, I know they can't read, so I drew them pictures! (Apart from the wrong colour scheme for the dog, the likeness is quite good, if I do say so myself!)

So there you go! My wonderful actinidia plants and protection against Keksis and Rich!

Friday, 27 June 2014

And the Counting Stops at...

52 exciting and 5 boring days!

I've been so very busy with a million things, roadtrips and gardening, and school parties, and summer solstice, and entertaining guests, and doing laundry, and cooking, and reading, and planning! I can't keep up with counting any more, but now I see that I'm bored less than one tenth of the time.
This has been a valuable experiment, because now I can pinpoint the reasons that make me feel bored. I am bored most often on Wednesdays, because that tends to be a day when I'm slacking off. It turns out it's not work that makes a day boring, it's getting nothing done. Every day has some sort of a structure - if I have a lot of work, I dig in and might feel swamped, but I'm never bored. I might feel reluctant to work if the deadline is far away, but I need something to show at the end of the day, I need that sense of having accomplished something. Loading the dishwasher does not make me feel less bored, but weeding or planting something might.
There are days when we open our doors to friends and family, and I don't really "work" per se, but I do run around a lot, making beds, cooking food and taking care of things and people. I have nothing to show for it in the evening, really, but it can't possibly be boring. So it all depends.

What makes a life exciting? Surely it must be awareness. You have to be aware of the moment and it's preciousness to appreciate it and not to waste it. Boredom = wasted time. So it's not WHAT we do on a daily bases, it's HOW we do it. A person may feel bored sunbathing on a Waikiki beach and feel completely thrilled bird-watching in the back yard. Your life is exciting when you spend your time deliberately, and not letting it pass by without a thought or care.

Some pictures from May and June.